Obama Reaffirms US Commitment to Israel's Security

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- On the first day of his trip to Israel, President Obama promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the United States is committed to the security of its closest Mideast ally.

The visit is dubbed "Unbreakable Alliance." Some have called it a charm offensive. According to polls, many Israelis don't trust Obama. But Obama said it's his chance to connect with the Israeli people.

"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said.

To emphasize America's security commitment, Obama viewed an Iron Dome anti-missile battery a project the United States helped to develop.

Meanwhile, Israelis ministers expressed their hopes for the visit.

"He's just had a very good start. The president's speech was I think very successful, a very good speech, very friendly and let me say very pro-Zionist speech about Jewish heritage, about Jewish state, about the very strong bonds," Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said.

"The security ties and economic ties and more than anything the joint values are the real bond between the two peoples and I do hope this very exciting visit will be translated into a set of very positive actions," Habayit Hayehudi party leader Naftali Bennett said.

Israeli television diplomatic reporter Udi Segal says the region changed during Obama's first term.

"After four years of a lot of disappointment, shift of power here that Egypt became an Islamic country, I think Obama understands that he needs to speak first to the people of Israel, to the leader of Israel," Segal said.

From the start both Israel and the United States Downplayed any idea of major breakthroughs.

"The president is not coming as previous presidents have, either to lobby for a specific policy in the way that only U.S. presidents can do or to take a victory lap upon the success of a policy,"  Ed Rettig, American Jewish Committee director of Israel and Middle East policies, said.

Still there's need for serious discussion.

"I think that Iran is probably the biggest issue and I presume Obama will say the same things he's been saying," said former Ambassador Alan Baker, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Then there's the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

President Obama is scheduled to visit Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah on Thursday.
Then on Friday, he visits the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  There Palestinians showed their disappointment with the president's first term by trashing a giant poster of Obama on Tuesday.

"He doesn't do anything for the Palestinian people. He just talks and doesn't do anything," a Palestinian named Rashid said.
Rana, another Palestinian, echoed his sentiments.
"I think there is no help from Obama to our situation in Palestine because they always talk and there is no result," she said.
But another resident named Daoud said there's hope.
"We got hope, always we got hope in the trip," he said.
One analyst said it may just turn out that the most important part of the visit is that it happened.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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